6 Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2024 You Can’t Ignore

March 1, 2024
Cooper Jitts
In the captivating realm of digital marketing, where change is the only constant, the need to stay ahead is more pressing than ever. The future of the industry beckons with promises of innovation and transformation. When faced with the fast-paced reality of trends in the digital marketing world, it’s important to know what’s best for your brand and how to jump on the bandwagon.

Contributing writer: Cooper Jitts
Cooper is the founder and Director of Talk Agency. As the Sales leader and, indeed, the leader of the whole pack, Cooper is a force of industry know-how and an undeniable passion for all things digital marketing.

In the captivating realm of digital marketing, where change is the only constant, the need to stay ahead is more pressing than ever. The future of the industry beckons with promises of innovation and transformation. When faced with the fast-paced reality of trends in the digital marketing world, it’s important to know what’s best for your brand and how to jump on the bandwagon.

Join us on this exploration as we unveil the key trends that will not only define the next year but shape the landscape for years to come.

2024 trends at a glance:

  • UGC makes an even bigger splash
  • AI is here to stay, but learning to leverage it is key
  • Lead generation is all about slow nurturing
  • Video marketing prioritises relevancy over polished productions
  • First-party data is building trust in an era of online security issues
  • Mobile-first is at an all-time peak

The Rise of User-Generated Content (UGC): A Paradigm Shift in Marketing Dynamics

It’s certainly no secret that User-Generated Content(UGC) has been on the rise for years. Major brands are now turning to content creators for their campaign creatives, and audiences are flocking to the authenticity they exude. 

Predictions point to an even greater surge in UGC demand and popularity. It's a departure from the corporate control that once dictated radio, press, and TV, and what’s more, it’s changing the way both audiences and brands think about sales.

Rather than big-name conglomerates calling the shots, the reins are now being handed to the users. The consumers. The people who, understandably, are sick and tired of having stale and transparent ads shoved down their throats. This shift starts to demand a prioritisation of their needs, relatable content, authenticity, and above all, relevance.

Embracing the Power of Peer Influence

The efficacy of content that mirrors the feel of a recommendation from a friend or peer cannot be overstated. While the transition challenges corporate norms of brand guidelines and budgetary constraints, it aligns marketing efforts with what users seek—high value and relatable, inspiring content that’s not only trusted by the industry but also by their friends.

Think about it—peer influence is nothing new. If we’re looking for a new restaurant to visit, we’ll most likely choose one that’s been recommended to us by someone we know and trust. We won’t call up a restaurant and ask, ‘How good is your food? You can’t be biased at all.’ Of course not; we’ll read reviews on the venue’s Facebook page and check websites like Yelp to get real, raw, objective opinions from real people like us.

Word of mouth (WoM) is making a massive comeback. It fuses an old-school principle with the shiny new excitement of UGC, serving as another trademark of the down-to-earth authentic style that modern audiences crave. 

Peer Influence Example: Well-known bedding brand Casper uses its reviews in a soft-sell and undeniably authentic way through its abandon cart email automation. It relies on the knowledge that customers are swayed by testimonials, which is why it’s added a simple yet carefully implemented user review in what could otherwise be a bland CTA-heavy email.  

Thinking Beyond Tools

In the ever-evolving world of marketing, there will always be new platforms and tools. However, these are merely the tools of the trade, not the trade itself. The essence lies in your offer, brand, and creativity—elements where you hold absolute control.

Almost in competition with such tools, audiences are also becoming smarter and more savvy in detecting marketing efforts. Users know when they’re being sold to, they know when a ‘quick and easy’ tool has been implemented, and they can sniff out a lack of effort better than a dog hunts down a dropped piece of cheese. 

The solution? Focus on your brand’s personality and authenticity. Tools and software are always essential in the backend—where would we be without Google Analytics, website designer platforms, and Adobe Suite?—but the gaze needs to shift beyond these tools and onto your unique talents and offerings as a team.

Leveraging AI for Growth: A Tool, Not a Replacement

Speaking of tools, what’s more of a hot topic right now than AI? Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerges as a beacon for driving efficiency and, subsequently, profitability. 

In our digital marketing toolkit, AI excels at optimising the executional groundwork, from drafting concepts to providing optimisation insights for search campaigns. Yet, it's crucial to understand its role—it's a tool for streamlining, not a substitute for the nuanced human touch. 

AI and the Human Touch

Contrary to misconceptions, AI cannot construct a fully integrated strategy. Despite its guaranteed (and likely fast-paced) advancements to come, we don’t think it ever really will. At least, not in the nuanced way that evolving users want.

Instead, the prowess of AI lies in liberating time for teams to hone their skills and focus on high-value tasks, fostering compounding growth. Whether it's facilitating search campaigns, re-writing documents, drafting email outlines, or training junior team members, AI brings unprecedented efficiency to our digital marketing arsenal.

Hootsuite’s recent 2024 social media trends report indicates that content created with generative AI tools is in danger of lacking this much-needed authenticity. According to their survey, 62% of consumers reported that they’re less likely to engage with and trust content if they know AI created it. 

Now, that’s not to say we shouldn’t use AI; it’s efficiency gold, after all. As the Content Marketing Institute maintains, it doesn’t matter how the content is created; what matters are the results. So, go forth and use AI generative tools to your heart’s content—just make sure you add your human touch to inject it with a healthy dose of realness.

How Does Your Audience Receive AI Content?

Regarding content creation, AI is moving leaps and bounds in all kinds of areas, from image creation and editing to video production to written work (and no, ChatGPT did not write that for us…though we’re sure it would agree). 

Now that everyone’s over the initial surge of excitement surrounding platforms like ChatGPT, and now that AI content has well and truly tested the waters with audiences worldwide, we’re starting to see some interesting trends in how various demographics are receiving such content. 

  • Predictably, Gen Z can tell the difference between AI and human-created content at the drop of a hat while Gen X and Baby Boomers have a little more trouble. 
  • Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to respond favourably to content they believe was AI-made than Baby Boomers are.
  • Gen X reportedly has the most trouble determining what information is real or fake on the internet compared to other generations.

Let’s just say, it’s crucial to look at your audience before deciding on how and where to implement AI into your workflow and content creation to ensure it won’t have adverse effects.

Evolution of Lead Generation: From Aggressive Tactics to Informed Relationships

The evolution of lead generation tells a tale of shifting strategies—from the traditional approach of running ads and forcing offers to a contemporary narrative focused on adding significant value before expecting a lead. 

The days of high-pressure sales tactics are behind us, replaced by a more nuanced and value-driven approach. While we’re all suckers for Mad Men here at Talk, and some of their old-school methods of advertising will always hold relevancy, it’s time to leave the past in the past and adapt to what the people want. 

Nurturing Over Time

Modern lead generation involves nurturing potential leads over time. Think well-thought-out email sequences and soft social touches long before they become leads. It's about providing ideas, strategies, and tactics over time, aligning marketing efforts with the user's journey.

Lead Nurturing Example 1: Lead nurturing emails like Framebridge’s ‘how to’ style EDMs are great examples of building relationships without hard sales. The custom picture-framing brand uses bite-size educational emails to generate engagement, trust, and connection with its audience, which invariably drives traffic and sales. 

Lead Nurturing Example 2: In terms of content lead generation, few creators compare to the quality and quantity content king Neil Patel. The marketing guru’s in-depth guides and free tools have become go-to resources for digital marketers everywhere, and it’s this slow but steady relationship-building that earns him strong leads over time. 

The Need-Aware Dynamic

While nurturing leads over time is paramount, it’s important to understand the role of direct response marketing, especially in an age where consumer decisions are made (or not made) in the blink of an eye.

Fast leads are now a matter of recognising the small percentage of your target market that is need-aware and ready to buy. Direct response marketing, when executed with precision, can yield leads within 72 hours. That’s not something you can afford to forego in your marketing strategy.

The Best Direct Response Marketing Tactics:

  • Referral programs
  • Upselling
  • Social media ads
  • Google ads
  • Text messaging
  • Pop-ups
  • Competitions or giveaways

Whatever platform or mode you’re using to distribute your DR marketing campaigns, however (email, social media, your website, even traditional mail) one thing is essential: offer something your audience needs exactly when they need it. 

The Importance of Video Marketing: Crafting Engaging Narratives in the Digital Age

Video marketing continues to be a critical force in digital marketing, often surpassing the impact of still content. This is particularly prevalent in the social media for business landscape, with TikTok still dominating and LinkedIn even starting to favour video posts over still images.

In 2024, however, success no longer lies in highly polished production but in relevance and (you guessed it) authenticity. The age of relatability puts users’ needs and wants at the forefront.

Relevancy Over Polish

The era of highly polished corporate content is giving way to a preference for content that resonates as a social personality, embodying the human touch. While polished video of course still has its place, the everyday user is now craving real-life content they can easily connect with.

We’re not saying your brand needs to be on TikTok all the time, or that your marketing strategy will fall flat without a dozen influencers creating content for you. What you should consider is tweaking your style away from traditional high-end production polish and instead towards a more user-generated style of video content.

User-Centric Video Campaign Example: A pioneer in this space is GoPro, which devised a UGC-style video campaign under the hashtag #MillionDollarChallenge. They ended up getting thousands of authentic video entries, which were cut together to create an entirely user-devised video campaign. It wasn’t polished, but it worked a charm. Plus, the chosen videos all received a portion of $1 million, hence the catchy title!

Holistic Video Strategy and Placement

While video is pivotal, businesses must not overlook the assets supporting it—robust supporting copy and a comprehensive plan for leveraging content across various platforms and trends. Think about your videos holistically and about a broader set of parameters, utilising all components equally rather than getting too caught up in crafting the perfect eye-catching video. 

Placement is also paramount when it comes to video marketing. A strategic approach to where and how your content is placed ensures it resonates with the intended audience. Producing an awesome video is great, but not if it doesn’t reach the right people in the right place at the right time.

Effective Video Placement Example: Sephora is a classic case of a visual brand using video to their advantage. Alongside their active YouTube channel and social media presence, Sephora cleverly places tutorial video clips in their emails. This directly targets audiences who are already interested in the brand and capitalises on a fun, vibrant how-to clip to gain traffic and conversions.

Sephora has even taken things a step further with their option to ‘send a video message with your gift’, giving customers a unique interactive experience to create their very own videos to send along with their loved ones’ present. Innovative, right?

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Building Trust in the Era of Data Privacy: Navigating the New Frontier of Marketing

Data, often hailed as the new oil, holds immense value in the digital age. Yet, as concerns around data privacy grow, building trust becomes a strategic imperative. The narrative shifts from reliance on third-party data to cultivating first-party relationships with customers.

So, what exactly is first-party data and why is it quickly becoming a hot trend in digital marketing?

First-Party Data

First-party data is like the VIP of information for a company. It's the information they collect straight from the source – you and me, in other words. When we click around on a brand's website, tap through its mobile app, or maybe drop a comment on its social media, that brand soaks up all that goodness. 

First-party data is gold because it's highly accurate and comes straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. This data is the real deal – as genuine as it gets.

Second-party data, on the other hand, is data that one company shares directly with another, usually through partnerships. Third-party data is data collected by external sources and sold to businesses. This last one is quickly going out of fashion, which we're pretty relieved about due to its security risks, accuracy concerns, and limited customisation.

The current trend of moving away from third-party data and embracing the use of first-party data emphasises the need for businesses to build direct relationships with customers. How do you do this? By leveraging emails, high-quality automation, and text messaging for more personalised and higher-quality data.

Data Privacy and the Future

The landscape of data privacy is evolving rapidly, with discussions around access, cross-device tracking, and the impending cookie-less future gaining momentum. The consensus is clear—strict protection of data will be paramount, and consensual first-party access will be the norm.

For us at Talk, this is a good thing—digital marketing, of course, lives online, and we want ourselves and our clients to be protected—but it’s crucial to be aware of stricter regulations in the online world.

As the tracking and attribution of data become increasingly challenging, marketers need to adjust their strategies by incorporating inventive approaches to integrate and analyse data. It's crucial to do so while maintaining strict adherence to privacy regulations. Check out Jean Ginzburg’s article on the topic for some examples of how to do this.

The World is Mobile-First: Crafting Engaging Experiences for the Personal Screen

Another hot approach that’s been trending for some time, but one that we’re confident will expand like never before this year, is mobile-first experiences. In an era where the world is increasingly mobile-first, businesses face the imperative of aligning their strategies with the personal nature of mobile interactions. 

However, the journey begins not with apps or elaborate strategies but with the fundamental step of optimising websites for a mobile-first experience.

Mobile-First Design

Surprisingly, a vast majority of businesses are yet to fully optimise their websites for mobile, emphasising the need for a shift in perspective. The theory is simple—design websites for mobile-first, recognising the prevalence of mobile use over desktops during website hours.

Think about your daily internet use. How many times did you open a laptop or log onto a desktop computer to quickly Google something? Chances are, you didn’t—you likely used your smartphone instead.

Great Mobile-First Website Designs [hint—open these on your phone]: Times Two and Tola are two of the best and most captivating mobile-first websites we’ve seen lately. Highly visual and quick to load, they’re straight to the point with beautifully engaging bite-sized content that’s perfectly sized for mobile. They scroll seamlessly, include user-friendly menu navigation, and keep eyes glued with simple yet elegant animations.

Beyond Websites

The opportunities presented by mobile extend beyond website optimisation. Businesses must explore how they can use mobile platforms to build more direct relationships with their target audience. 

Apps, while effective for data collection, can be costly and challenging to sustain user engagement. But apps aren’t the only way to achieve customer connections—consider some of these useful mobile marketing strategies as well:

  • SMS marketing campaigns
  • Location-based marketing to deliver targeted mobile ads
  • Mobile SEO (rather than keywords, think page loading speeds and local SEO strategies)
  • Social media marketing
  • Vertical images and videos in blogs and emails
  • Mobile-optimised landing pages

The Bottom Line: 2024 is the Year of Authenticity

You’ve probably picked up on a clear through-line in this article: authenticity is the buzzword of 2024 in a host of different ways, and we’re excited to see it take off. 

Embrace user-centric content, leverage AI wisely, redefine lead generation, prioritise authentic video marketing, build trust through ethical data practices, and adopt a mobile-first approach. Put all of those digital marketing trends together and you’ve got authenticity in the bag.

The future is dynamic, and success lies in navigating these trends with dexterity and insight. Want a hand working them into your marketing strategy? Our team is here to help drive your results to new heights, so get in touch to find out how we can inject a touch of magical authenticity into your brand.

Keen for more inspiring content? Check out Cooper’s 5 things he wishes he knew before starting a digital marketing agency.

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